07/13/2012 2:27PM

Hollywood average handle down 3 percent


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The spring-summer meeting at Betfair Hollywood Park will end on Sunday with a decline in daily average all-sources handle of approximately 3 percent from last year’s meet, track president Jack Liebau said on Thursday.

Liebau said that handle from account wagering sources has been strong this meet, particularly in Southern California, but that there have been small declines in ontrack handle and from simulcasting locations in California and nationwide.

“Overall, we’ll be down 3 percent,” he said. “I think in California, which would include ontrack, Southern California satellites and [account wagering] we will be down less than 1 percent. We will be significantly up in [account wagering] in Southern California.”

The season, which began on April 26, had smaller-than-expected fields and a purse cut.

Through Thursday, fields had averaged 7.45 runners per race compared to 7.69 runners per race at the corresponding meeting in 2011. The track is on schedule to run 439 races during the current 50-day meeting compared to 471 races during a 54-day meeting last year.

On June 9, the track announced a reduction in purses that essentially offset gains that were offered from the start of the meeting. Purses for maiden special weight races and non-claiming races were cut by $2,000 and purses for all claiming races were cut by $1,000. In addition, purses for three stakes were cut by a total of $150,000.

In early June, Liebau said that handle compared to the 2011 meeting was down 5 percent.

Thursday, Liebau said that the track is likely to have an overpayment from purses after the meeting.

The decrease in business comes when there is widespread concern that Hollywood Park will be closed for development in the near future. Speculation intensified last month when Madison Square Garden announced the purchase of the adjacent Forum arena with the intent of using it primarily as a concert venue.

Liebau reiterated on Thursday that Hollywood Park will seek “our historical racing dates” in 2013, meaning a spring-summer meeting and a fall meeting. The California Horse Racing Board is scheduled to discuss racing dates for 2013 later this year.

Hollywood Park’s fall meeting this year is scheduled from Nov. 8 to Dec. 16.